I received my petition for leave of Absence to-day returned rejected

Joseph Culver Letter, August 2, 1863, Page 1

Head Quarters, Co. “A” 129th Regt. Ills. Vol. Infty.
Gallatin, Tenn., Aug. 2nd 1863

My Dear Wife

I am disappointed in not hearing from you to-day & earnestly hope the state of your health has not prevented your writing. I hope that I may be more successful to-morrow.

I received my petition for leave of Absence to-day returned rejected. I have still another in the hands of Dr. Heermans, who went to the front on Friday Evening. I have but little hopes of success, however, & will not base any expectations upon it. My last petition has been three weeks getting through. I shall in all probability try again, the first opportunity that offers, but you must not allow any prospect of my success enter into your arrangements. If possible I shall be with you before your return home, unless I am assured that there will be necessity for my waiting until Winter. Your letters intimate such a contingency & perhaps you may soon be able fully to determine.1

I wrote to you on Thursday Evening & a long letter to Sarah on Friday. I rec’d. a letter from Sister Hannah stating that Father was slowly declining & they fear he will not live much longer, & also Stating that she had written to you to visit them, & as I feared Mother’s name [Mrs. Murphy's] was not mentioned.2 My last letter had not been received. I am exceedingly sorry as Mother will undoubtedly feel slighted & not feel at liberty to go. I hope she will not feel so, & you can explain fully how it has happened. I am confident it will be rectified if you acknowledge the receipt of Hannah’s letter, so that she may know hers has been received.

If I had been successful [in obtaining a leave] & could have been with you, all would have been well. As it is, I shall hope for the best.

You intimate in your last letter that you are almost done visting in New York. When do you expect to leave it? I have no clue to your intentions, but you could not determine your course, I presume, until you heard from Carlisle.

I shall wait anxiously to hear from you & especially to learn the state of your health. I do not know that I can add any suggestions to my former letter except that cheerfullness is a great aid to health. Bilious diseases almost always produce a morbid state of mind which requires great effort at times to throw off. I have been so often afflicted that I am conversant with its effects. Do not allow anything to give you trouble. If even your surmises as to your condition are correct, there is no reason for depression. I shall feel thankful to God for all blessings, & though I know you may have some severe trials, which I would be most happy to alleviate if in my power by my presence; yet I cannot deny that I should look with pleasure for the event, if my dear Wife only enjoys good health.

I hope much from the weaning of Frankie in the regaining [of] your health. I am inclined to believe that you have suffered much more than your letter intimates & have felt considerable uneasiness. If your health should prevent your writing, be sure & get some friend to write & give me your true condition. Do not hesitate to tell me the worst, I shall certainly expect it & rely upon your letters.

Nothing of interest has transpired since I last wrote. Capt. Reed has returned from Pontiac but brings but little news, save that all are well. I do not understand why Sister Maggie [Utley] has not kept her promise to write to me. I have heard nothing of Bro. Johnie yet, nor from Thomas or Sammy.3 I presume they are all busy. Russell has not written yet & had not arrived when Capt. Reed left. I presume he is having a happy time.

I learn through Reed that the reports in circulation in Pontiac [of Russell's romantic interests] have lost nothing, but are becoming more serious. I apprehend but little evil from them, however, while they will furnish food for the minds of many, who always knew that it would be so. I shall trust still in God. Pray for me.

Mrs. Smith is slowly improving but is very far from being able to travel. She can sit up in bed for half an hour at a time but that is all. She will regain strength but slowly until she is able to move about. My health is quite good.

Your papers have not yet arrived. We have no exciting war news. The Rebels have left Kentucky, & our troops hold undisputed possession.4 Dr. Johnson & Lt. Edgington have returned from Louisville & their wives gone home. It was late when they got into the city, & Doc’s [Johnson's] children had gone to bed. In the morning the youngest wakened earl[y] & not knowing his father, alarmed his mother by his cries saying there was a man in bed. You know Doc’s disposition, & Jo[?] enjoys the joke very much.

I shall try & write to-morrow evening if I hear from you. To-day, one year ago, I was sworn into the service. Who knows what the coming year may bring forth? I hope we may see the inauguration of a permanent Peace. The Rebels are as determined as ever & will not yield except as they are overcome.5

May God in mercy bless you, my dear Wife, & keep us ever from evil. Kiss Frankie & Mother for me & Give my love to all our Kind Friends. Write to me as often as you can. With a kiss & much love to you, I remain, as ever,

Yours till Death,
J. F. Culver

  1. J.F.C. is alluding to the possibility that his wife might be pregnant. []
  2. Hannah Culver in her letter of July 27 had written, “Father’s health is not improving any. He infrequently suffers with pain in his stomach, besides his rheumatism in his back and limbs and of course is growing weaker.” She also reported that she had written Mary Culver, inviting her to “spend the remainder of the summer with us.” Hannah Culver to J.F.C, July 27, 1863, Culver Collection. []
  3. Johnny, Thomas, and Sammy Murphy were J.F.C.’s brothers-in-law. []
  4. Colonel Scott, in retreating from Kentucky, had divided his brigade. Col. G. W. McKenzie with his regiment withdrew through Fulkerson’s Gap, while Scott with the main column retired by way of Big Hill, Lancaster, and Stanford, and recrossed the Cumberland River at Smith Shoals on August 1. When Scott reassembled his brigade at Concord, Tenn., he found that his raid into East Kentucky had cost 350 casualties. O.R., Ser. I, Vol. XXIII, pt. I, pp. 840-843. []
  5. Northern euphoria caused by Lee’s repulse at Gettysburg, the surrenders of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, and the withdrawal of Bragg’s army from Middle Tennessee had evaporated. In the days immediately following Lee’s retreat from Gettysburg and news that Vicksburg had fallen, most Northern leaders, as well as the people, believed that the war was about over. President Jefferson Davis and his generals, however, rallied their soldiers and civilians and the war continued another 22 months. []

About Colleen Theisen

Outreach and Instruction Librarian. Lover of coffee, as well as 19th century photography, painting, tourism and print.
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